Last Month

Today marks the final day of April 2014’sCamp NaNoWriMo, next week marks finals for the local college, and in just another 3 weeks or so the seniors graduate and begin their ‘last summer’ before college. For today’s edition of “what are you reading Wednesday” I wanted to take a moment to discuss the books that we associate with this time of year.

Usually if we’re thinking of ‘ending’ books, we come up with apocalyptic stories, self-help or informational books dealing with death or divorce, or final segments in a series. All of these are great pieces of someone’s life, however there are many books that have been written or commandeered in order to provide insight, motivation, or just plain joy during these often emotionally trying weeks. These are sometimes also known as ‘new beginnings’ books:

  1. Oh! The Places You’ll Go – Dr. Seuss

    1. I was given a copy of this book upon my high school graduation and another (by a different relative) when I completed my college degree. A fun loving, interesting, and of course, rhythmically whimsical book meant to encourage its readers, Oh! The Places You’ll Go is a wonderful example of an ‘endings’ book.

  2. Halley’s Bible Handbook – Henry H. Halley

    1. My church home, as well as a few others that I’ve heard of, gave these books to every high school graduate when I was finishing up my high school career. This book is meant to aid its readers on a journey through the Bible and my church family handed it out in an attempt to keep their students in the Word while in the World.

  3. Yay, You! Moving Up and Moving OnSandra Boynton

    1. This book is a colorful, fun, and motivating story for graduates, or anyone staring down a change. I often read my copy to my toddler, who enjoys the pictures and silly sounds her mommy makes. It serves as a reminder the great things are yet to come, for us all.

 

 

These are just three of the books that are habitually given to students as they move into the next phases of their lives. I have also seen devotional books, how-to survive books, what you need to know about…books, and, my personal favorite, handbooks for the towns in which students will be living.

Is there a book or traditional present that your family or home area hands out to those moving ‘up’? Do you have a suggestion for what might help and inspire students as they move into summer? I would love to hear about them!

Writing – A Rant of Silent Proportions

Writing is not, at its core, a quiet pursuit. Though our mouths may be silent, only whispered comments coming out and those aimed at ourselves, authors do not experience silence in the strictest sense.

Our minds are loud, obnoxious, screaming things that prod us on to write. Manifest destiny with pen and ink, we must conquer those notebooks, those characters, and in a very real sense, those pieces of ourselves that were trying to make a run for it. No, writing is not a silent endeavor. Writing is an unheard siren, and scream of many voices clashing together in our heads.

Those who write use all five senses and then some, occasionally seven or eight to be honest, carving out plotlines that titillate and concern, excite and dismay, whatever it is that will draw our audience in to our lives. We use all of these to create a world, the world, all worlds, your world, so that we can bring it to you and allow you, the reader, the experience of a lifetime within the confines of a cover. Some authors redefine their genres, some create new genres, and some merely work within the confines of their chosen field.

Like alchemists, we are always mixing and making, pushing ingredients or ignoring the laws of physics. Though we may not seem to be moving, we may not seem to listening, we may not even seem to be alive at times, the sights and sounds within our heads are more real, more vibrant, than any can tell. We watch the world around overlay the world within. Bird calls mix with dragon roars, time machines whiz down the street, the old west lays out in the middle of the grocery store, and conversations integrate themselves. We people watch, we listen, and we create. Creativity cannot exist in silence, in darkness; there is always a light, there is always a sound, there is always another story screaming to be acknowledged. Writing is not a quiet pursuit.

Some authors have cracked under the self-imposed pressure, using alcohol or drugs to numb the mind and silence the overwhelming cacophony. Others ignore the calling and hope that the sound will eventually die down on its own if they bury themselves in other pursuits. Still there are some who lock themselves away to write and come out refreshed, vibrant, and more than a little cocky. Each one must deal with their inner voices in their own way, and each one’s insanity helps to create the world which they present to the world.

All in all, writing is deafening and that deafness is how you know you’re doing it right. A clean, organized, silent mind is the enemy of the creative process and creates blocks to success. Stories burst forth from madness, and the pursuit of writing is the pursuit of that madness.

Buy a good hat to distract from the look behind your eyes, ignore the people who give you strange looks, and always carry pen and paper with you no matter where you go. Once you learn to distinguish between the voices inside your head and the ones beside you, you are good to go! But never forget that writing is not a quiet, sedentary pursuit. Writing is a rock concert in your head. Embrace it.

Sleepover Zoo: A Review

This week I actually have a book review for Book Review Tuesday! I was given this book in exchange for an honest review and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Without further ado, here is:

Sleepover Zoo

By: Brenda Kearns

Publication Date: April 1, 2013

 

Written primarily with upper elementary students in mind, this children’s book follows Antonina Maria (Toni) as she tries to adjust to a new school. The story centers on a few days in her life as the ‘popular’ girl in the sixth grade, Leona, pressures the ‘weird’ new girl, Toni, to have a sleepover.

That would be fine, except Toni’s home is a little…different than normal homes. Her family works with birds and her basement is a testament to that fact, shelves lined with cages and sick or injured birds rehabilitating in them don’t make for a normal home. When a prissy, never dirty, girl who isn’t allowed pets comes into their home a great dane, a koi aquarium, a small kitten, and a Macaw who drinks coffee make for a sleepover she’ll never forget.

Throughout this book the reader learns right along with the characters. Toni’s brother, Bruno, and best friend, Meghan, help her as they learn about friendship, family, and being proud of who you are. Along with those important life lessons, Brenda Kearns also sprinkles in some interesting facts about the different animals who live with Toni and Bruno.

This book is the type that would be good for classrooms from younger ages, like Mother’s Second Grade ‘TweetHearts’ (yes I’m serious, she did name her class that…) all the way through even the Eighth grade for students who don’t generally enjoy reading, for whatever reason. The simple and easy flow of the book leads readers along while feeding them information that helps them identify with characters and learn as they go. Sleepover Zoo is also a book that could inspire children to go outside and learn about the world around them, and that is a special quality to find in print.

Over all I give this book 5 out of 5 dragons for great writing, an interesting story, and making me want to learn more about nighthawks. If you are looking for a book for your child, your classroom, or even a quick read for yourself, I encourage you to give Brenda Kearn’s books a try.

The Legend of the Castillian Dragons:

In the year 1277, during the civil war for his throne, King Alfonso X of Castile located a secret room in his home. In this secret room was a staircase, at the bottom of the staircase a tunnel. The tunnel wound deep underground, the air cool and musty as secrets. The cool air and winding tunnel took him to a large, well-fortified, and long forgotten vault carrying the secret symbol of a monarch.

Recognizing that symbol as his grandfather’s emblem, Alfonso excitedly pulled an old and rusty key from deep in his robes. The worn and discolored rope that dangled from the key was warm against the king’s palm and seemed to tingle with an excitement to match his own as he wrestled the rusty skeleton key into the rustier lock. IT FIT! The tumblers moved with a quiet sigh, much more easily than he had anticipated. Suddenly a fear of the unknown began to creep up on him, the tingling from the doorknob intensifying to cause his entire body to shake.

What could possibly need to have been hidden in such a manner??

With a mighty groan from both the king and the door, the vault was revealed. Light emanated from the back corner of the room, something was glowing. That glow drew King Alfonso X through the doorway and, as if by magic, torches whooshed to life across the walls on either side of him. The two torches at the corners then each slowly moved down in an arc and touched the liquid that was waiting in the previously unseen troughs that lined the other walls of the room. Flames leapt up to reveal what had been kept hidden for so long; treasures from various histories crowded the tables and rugs, a throne with rusty streaks on the back rest leaned against a wardrobe filled to overflowing with tapestries that Alfonso could not remember having ever seen before. He didn’t spend much time on the wonders around him, however. The glowing statue in the far corner drew him in and left little room for other curiosities.

As he neared the corner Alfonso realized that this was not just a statue. No, this was masterpiece of massive interweaving parts. Two beings, two dragons, twined together as if attempting to protect one another from harm’s way. The orange tinged glow that had drawn the king near was coming from the more feminine of the statues, her features seeming to be blurred in a warm moist fog that was wrapping around the couple.

Entranced, Alfonso spent hours sitting in the old throne and staring at the statues as the mist and fog thickened and boiled across the floor toward him, only to disappear moments later and begin the journey all over again.

Alfonso would sneak away at every chance to visit this secret vault. Occasionally he would bring bits of plunder up to his wife and children, or as present to a political visitor, and pass them off as things he had stored from king’s who went before him.

Life, as is usual, continued on and Alfonso began to use the vault as an escape from pressures as his eldest son passed away and his new heir was left to fight for the legacy. During the Civil War that followed, Alfonso shared his secret with his favored son and the two devised plans and strategies while sitting in the cool of a hidden room. Their plans failed, however, and King Alfonso X of Castile and Leon passed away in the year 1284 leaving behind a soon-to-be-forgotten hidden vault, a key to pass down through his son’s line, and an heir that was not his chosen.

. “No mention of the vault or the stone dragons was seen or heard for over two hundred years.”

Then, Charles I became interested in a family heirloom that didn’t seem to be worth anything but was prized highly in his legacy. An old rusty skeleton key that had no door to open. 

Through his convoluted family tree, as all monarchy family trees are, Charles was passed down both the title of King of Castile and an old rusted key that’s known history was that it was said to have been handed down for hundreds of years. Eventually reaching a dead end as he researched the key’s heritage, Charles journeyed to the castle in Seville in search of answers.

Every door was tested, every room searched, and still no home for the key was found. After days of searching Charles became despondent, fearful that he would never learn the secrets the key held. Preparing to leave the castle and return to his usual home in Spain.

Dejectedly yanking his own clothing out of the wardrobe without waiting for his valet, Charles noticed an etching in the upper corner of the back wall. Tracing it gingerly, he realized that the panel moved! When slid open it revealed another panel, this time the room’s wall that was slightly ajar though spider web covered. Gingerly using his pocket square to wipe away the worst of it, Charles shoved open that panel as well. Quickly grabbing a candle and a spare from his room, the Holy Roman Emperor descended the revealed stairs and traveled the musty tunnel, several times almost turning back but prodding himself on with the thought of the key. The mystery had bugged him and he was KING not some frightened coward! King’s get answers.

At the end of the long and musty tunnel stood a door. Though forgotten and alone for centuries, the door had not wavered in its strength and the lock waited patiently for the next heir who would unite it with the key. Charles did just that.

With a mighty heave the door swung wide and, has had happened with his predecessors, when Charles walked into the vault torches and troughs lit to welcome him home. Ecstatic at his success and at the large piles of treasure awaiting him, Charles began to plunder the smaller goods, placing them into his pockets until the golden glow lured in to the corner of the dragons.

Dragons hold a major magic in all superstitious and legendary tales. They are the fire breathers, the knight eaters, and the treasure seekers. They are the wise, the warriors, and the wanted…and OH! Did King Charles the Wise WANT those wise warrior dragon! He yearned after them, he relished in the cool misty fog that slowly surrounded him in her glow. He wondered at the tinge of smoky scent that followed. He made his decision. Those would his plunder, the other treasures meant nothing if the dragon couple were not his. Charles had no way of knowing where they came from or how old they were, but he knew where they were going and that was enough for him.

Updates and Promotion

I did manage to write somewhere around 5,000 words last week, leaving myself 10,000 to sclepp through in the final few days.

While I work on finishing up this first draft…or at least getting my minimum word count in (because I don’t think I’m anywhere near the end of the book yet!) why don’t you relax and go back to the beginning with my first book Dragon on My Neck, which will be free for e-reader download Sunday, April 27th thru Tuesday April 30th.

I want to thank everyone for their support and understanding during Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I have gotten a lot of work done, though not necessarily in the area I was looking to work in! Here is an excerpt from last week’s work,

 

Chapter 30:

“See, I can control my own diet,”” Jonsturney announced snottily, the almost constant joked about his food intake finally taking their toll on his usually happy personality. “Mm, Mm, Mm, Saladation.”

“Saladation?” Polly repeated, looking up from her own lunch/study session and trying not to smirk at the still growing dragon teen.

“Yes, Salad-ation,” Jon confirmed with a sassy head wag at his friend. “You know, like validation but with lettuce. Yummy, water filled, healthy lettuce.”

“I’m very proud of you,” Polly smiled and offered up half of her dessert, “Would you like a little chocolate to celebrate your salad?”

“Yes…wait,” Jon pursed his dragon lips and allowed his eyelids to droop a little as he thought it out. “No, I want some fruit for dessert, but thank you.”

“Wow,” Polly tossed him a container of blueberries before returning to her pile of dust smeared and leather bound volumes. Absentmindedly eating her own slices of fruit between page flips, Polly was concentrating so hard on the fading words that she didn’t realize Jon was looking over her shoulder until ten minutes later, when he spoke again.

“What ya doin?” The mostly forgotten fruit soared in all directions as the mercifully paper plate hit the floor.

“DO NOT DO THAT TO ME!” Polly carefully pronounced each word as she rushed to wipe juice from the book she had been reading.

“Sorry, I was just asking,” Jon shrugged his shoulders and started to lumber back to his pillow couch.

“I’m sorry Jon,” Polly, who clearly remembered the first time she had ever seen the large dragon, dressed in a bright sweater and pretending to be a lizard, had a soft spot for Jon and quickly went to rub the third spike from the front of his head (his favorite spot). “I was just doing some research into old Spanish beliefs, myths, and legends. I thought I might be able to find something on your family…and I may have.”

“Really??” Jon leapt up, hit his head on the ceiling fan, knocked Polly over, and broke a glass shelf. “Oops. Maybe I shouldn’t get so excited in here.” He looked around sheepishly, “But maybe I should find a broom my size.”

 

“I have one ordered for you,” Sir Brandon assured as he walked in the door and surveyed the mess Jon had just made. “Now then, what’s all this ruckus about? We heard you out on the tennis courts.”

“Salad,” Polly kept a straight face as a piece of blueberry soaked lettuce dropped from the fan and onto Sir Brandon’s white shirt.

“Salad,” Brandon sighed, “Why do I have the feeling that there’s more to it?”

“Because Polly is an exceptionally poor fibber?” Broyli guessed, stepping around more of the scattered fruit and snatching up a book from the pile. “Looks to me as if she’s taking some of her time off to do a little research.” He waved the stained and cracked spine toward the girl, “So the real question here is what did you find?”

“I found something that might explain why a king would remove valuable and mythic statuary from his castle, send said statuary overseas on a pirate ship covered in mystical ancient runes, and never mention it in anything ever again.” Polly smiled at the bemused expressions on her friends’ faces. “However, I’m not completely sure yet if that is the case. I could have just found some old recipe for tartar sauce.”

“Tartar sauce??!?!”

“Ok, so probably not tartar sauce,” Polly laughed, “Right now all I know for sure is that the story involves a rather large stone statue that I’m pretty sure will turn out to be of a familiar dragon family’s parents. Jon interrupted me before I could get much further than that.”

Link

Free E-Book

Free E-Book

Dr. Tyree has this  book available for free download currently through April 28th. Please share!

 

When mankind was evicted from the Garden of Eden, we lost more than scenery and serenity. This book takes a closer look at six major blessings, stolen by sin – only to be returned in the redeeming work of Jesus the Messiah. Dr Tyree has been serving as a minister with churches of Christ for over 30 years. A graduate of Harding University (BA, 1984), he has also completed work in Theology and Pastoral Counseling. His greatest passion, however, is preaching and teaching. Out of that pursuit has come the need to put down on paper some of the thoughts that so readily spill out of his mouth. Other works currently include: Ministerial Musings, What 3000 People Believed, and The Passing of the Sabbath. Coming soon . . . Buffy and Biff, an Unfortunate Friendship (for teens), Monsoon McCreel and the Rose (for young readers).

My House

Well folks, Mom is sick so I got drafted into teaching the second grade today. I may come up with some brilliant stunner of a post while I’m gone, but until then I will leave you with the first chapter of My House. My House is a novel I wrote years ago, back when I first hit college I believe. I’m thinking of using it as an outline and revamping the piece now that I know more about writing.

Let me know what you think?? Have a great day!

 

Chapter One

        Three small children are playing on a trampoline in the front yard while a woman (their grandmother?) watches from a walker on the front porch. A bird calls, a dog barks, cars go by…it’s a perfect picture of suburbia, but all I see is the house next door. A little more run down than the rest of the houses on this particular street, with its peeling blue paint, rusty gray porch, and light yellow door faded to a streaked dirty brown. Oh how I remember that door and the year we painted it. Billy was home from college and Dee had no summer school classes (for the first time that any of us could remember) the younger kids were at summer camp so it was just us three oldest. That was a great summer! With the three little brats out of the way at camp we got all of the attention that mom and dad had been wasting on them. They played ball with us, cooked our favorite meals, took us swimming and let us choose the new colors for the house. My brothers picked the blue of the house and the silver of the porch, making it look like a warm summer’s night, but I – I got to choose the color of the door. Everyone else on the block had boring doors, all different shades of brown and black, but our house was going to be different, pretty. It should, no HAD TO match the feel of the rest of the house. I spent hours contemplating that door color. As the boys painted the house and the porch, I would watch all of the colors of life go by in the form of birds, butterflies, flowers, people’s clothes, and whatever else I could see. Finally, I chose a warm, buttery yellow because of its happiness. It reminded me of sunflowers and those truly happy smiles that light up a person’s entire face. I thought it was the perfect color to remind us of the sun and summer during the rain and snow of the upcoming seasons.

            After spending so much time choosing just the right shade for our front door, it seemed like the painting was finished too quickly. A mere four hours after I told my father the final color choice, the door was painted and drying. My brothers made fun of me for taking so long in my decision, but I didn’t care, the color was absolutely gorgeous and just perfect for the blue house.

            I hadn’t realized that I had crossed the street and was touching the door until the deep voice behind me startled me back to reality.

            “Can I help you” he inquired, sweeping his gorgeous green eyes over me and taking in everything he saw quickly and efficiently. “I’m the realtor if you have any questions or want to take a look inside.”

            That caught me off guard, no on had told me he was selling our house.

            “It’s for sale?” I asked, stupidly stumbling over the surprise as well as the intense look on his face.

            “Yeah,” he replied, looking bewildered, “Didn’t you see the sign, its right over there?”

            Now I felt really stupid, the sign he pointed out was directly in front of me.

            “Oh, no I didn’t see that and Billy didn’t tell me about it either.” I sounded more upset than I really was, but then I did have a lot to be upset about.

            “Billy? Your husband?” He asked quickly, furtively glancing at my left hand for any telling rings.

            “Billy? No” I laughed as I took in his relieved expression. “He’s my big brother, and the owner of this house.”

            “Oh, OH you’re Kit McKlain” he exclaimed, stumbling over his words. His body language became shy, almost scared. No longer was he the bold, sexy realtor hoping to make a sell, but a small, scared little by, hoping the neighborhood bully wouldn’t take his lunch money. I’m so used to this reaction that I barely notice it anymore. When people find out my name, they have a tendency to react in a very similar fashion. My family has the ability to scare the pants off most people.

            “Don’t worry” I rushed to assure him, “Billy hasn’t told me because we rarely speak anymore.”

            “Really?” he asked, “I’m sorry.”

            “It’s okay, not something I usually talk about with strangers, but still okay. Any yes, I would love to take a look inside.”

            “Great!! I’ll get the keys, and by the way, my name is Nikolas.” He said as he jogged down the street toward his glossy black truck.

            As I stood there waiting for him to return with the keys, I let my mind drift back to that summer.